In a quintessentially American game, for an organization often called America’s Team, Dat Nguyen stands as the first player of Vietnamese descent ever to play in the NFL. Yet if asked for his job description, he would probably answer simply, “I tackle.”
He earned a scholarship to Texas A&M University, becoming the first Vietnamese American football player in school history. As part of the storied “Wrecking Crew,” Nguyen’s tackling earned him All-American honors and led the Aggies to their first Big 12 title. He went on to earn All-Pro recognition with the Dallas Cowboys.
For Nguyen, tackling the various obstacles of life gives him the most pride, a skill he learned from his parents, who narrowly escaped from the North Vietnamese Army in 1975. Nguyen offers the story of his faith, his family, and his career as an inspiration to others. He recounts his father’s decision to flee Vietnam, the boat trip that took his family to freedom, and their eventual settling in Rockport, Texas. He describes the racism his family encountered while he was growing up and how one friendship and an invitation to participate in sports helped overcome prejudice.
Nguyen’s insightful look into the life of a big-time football player offers first-hand glimpses of the personalities and playing (or coaching) styles of many celebrated stars of college football and the NFL.
This special edition, published in commemoration of Nguyen’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, features a new afterword in which Dat reflects on his life since leaving professional football and on the continuing inspiration he derives from his family, his work, and his opportunity to make a difference.
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Published by Texas A&M University Press